Vertical Stabilizer

Tonight after work I spent a couple hours working on the vertical stab. Before mounting it to the fuselage, the forward spar had to have 5/8th of an inch trimmed off.

Here is the spar after trimming and filing the edges smooth.

I then mounted the stab to the fuselage and clamped it in place.

The height relative to the fuselage is important. I taped an Allan wrench to the rudder hinge to use as my reference line and to ensure everything was aligned.

After measuring the verticality of the stab by measuring from the tip to each end of the horizontal stab, I confirmed it was aligned, And then used my angle drill to drill the rear spar to the elevator stop, then inserted the bolt temporarily.

Here is the aft of the rear spar. I then did the same thing for the second bolt through the elevator stop. I then bolted both sides to hold the stab in place.

Before finalizing the forward spar bracket, the hinges have to be kept perfectly straight. I decided to use the rudder as my straight edge, because it will tell me if there is any change in the play on the rudder.

It worked great, and after ensuring it swung freely, I determined I need to fabricate a shim to go between the front spar and the bracket.

Next step is to fabricate the shim, and drill the front spar for the bracket.

Vertical Stabilizer

Drilled Horizontal Stab

This weekend I spent time getting the elevator horns drilled for the pushrod and the horizontal stab drilled and mounted to the fuselage.

Britney was in town visiting me this weekend so, of course, I asked her to help me work on the plane. She has been very encouraging and really wants to help on the project. So we got started by mounting the elevators to the horizontal stab on the bench.

Once we got the elevators lined up and clamped, we measured which horn was aft, and then removed the left elevator.

I measured and then drilled the hole for the pushrod, and then I fabricated a block to span the gap between the horns, remounted the left elevator and placed the block between the horns. This ensured that the #30 pilot hole was drilled perfectly perpendicular.

Once the pilot hole was drilled, I enlarged it for the AN3 bolt that will eventually hold the pushrod.

The resulting holes are perfectly lined up and perpendicular.

Once this was done, we removed the elevators and then positioned the horizontal stab on the fuselage.

We measured, and then measured, and then measured again. I clamped everything into place and measured one last time.

I then drilled my #30 pilot hole through the stab and then remeasured. After ensuring nothing moved, I final drilled it for the AN3 bolt and then inserted the bolt to prevent anything from shifting.

This is the underside of the outer holes after drilling the pilot holes. Edge distances for the longeron were right on the money.

I then proceeded to drill the remaining two holes, and fabricated the F-798 shims. Everything lined up and I did one final measurement, and it all remained perfectly aligned.

I bolted the forward bolts, used a 3/16th spacer to raise the rear spar to the right height, and then drilled and bolted the four holes to mount the rear spar to the fuselage.

Next up is the vertical stab!

Drilled Horizontal Stab

Plane Has a New Home

After three and a half years in the garage. I finally moved the plane to its new home in my hangar!

There was probably a lot more work I could have done before moving it, but there were some circumstances that dictated I needed to move to the airport.

It started by first getting a giant truck with a lift gate. Once I got that to the house I had my friend Mike over to help me out. We removed the canopy and rear window (which I just had sitting on the plane temporarily…need to finish this) and then rolled the plane out into the driveway.

I know it doesn’t look like much, but seeing the plane in the driveway is one of the coolest things.

After doing some measurements and planning over the last couple months, I realized that the wheels were too wide for the lift gate. Luckily Mike had a 4×8 sheet of plywood that we laid on top of the lift gate.

We rolled the plane forward and lined it up. If it wasn’t for the plywood, this would have been a very precarious balancing issue (Thanks Mike!).

We chocked the wheels once we made sure the engine wouldn’t hit the floor of the truck when lifting, and then raised the plane up and pushed it into the truck. My girlfriend Britney did an awesome job holding the whole airplane in the air!

Once the plane was in. we loaded up the rest of the few remaining items and secured everything down. It felt a little nerve wracking having all this in the back of a truck, but it all went off without a hitch.

I managed to drive the truck (slowly) down to the airport in San Martin and we basically did the reverse, and there were no issues. Luckily the rain held off the whole time we were moving.

We rolled the plane in and it felt like a huge accomplishment. I immediately wanted to start mounting the tail and wings and everything on the plane, but the wings will have to wait for another time.

I loosely fit the horizontal and vertical stabilizers using some clamps. This is probably the coolest thing ever (so far)!

All in all, it was a very successful and satisfying day. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Mike and Britney and of course my mom, who brought us all some lunch and helped with the moving of everything! (Garage can now be used for her car again)!

Plane Has a New Home

Flap motor housing

First off, I got myself a hangar! I’ve been checking the hangars at the San Martin airport for a while, and finally got in contact with them and got the hangar last Wednesday! It’s a nice T hangar that’s north facing (shaded all day), and has plenty of room for the project. I’ll be migrating there over the next couple weeks.

Before making the big move, there’s still a couple things that I want to finish up in the garage. The first thing was that when I installed the canopy release mechanism, I realized that the flap housing was being pushed backwards and wouldn’t install. So I modified the mounting holes, and everything lines up much nicer.

This will get installed with a couple washers and the offset of the holes won’t be noticed.

I also installed the elevator push rod that goes through the center tunnel, since I had everything off. It needed some coaxing but it installed just fine.

The push rod connects the control sticks to the bell crank that’s right behind the baggage bulkhead.

I also cut some two conductor wire to length for the flap motor power lines, and added a couple connectors so that it’s removable. Once it’s installed this will get a zip tie wrapped around it between the tabs and it will be fully secure.

Next up is to finish the canopy frame.

Flap motor housing

Modified Wing Rear Spars

Today I finally got off my lazy butt and got back in the garage. It’s been more than a month since I’ve touched the project.

I started by making a giant list of all the tasks that I could think of in order to finish the project.

The goal being that I can estimate effort and duration of each task. Given everything I could think of and the effort needed, it looks like I have about 500hours left (give or take).

Once I finished this, I decided to something on the wings that was easy, to get back in the mood.

The quickbuild wings need their rear spare modified for the -7. The wings are identical for the -8, and this is why they are larger. I marked the rear spars where they needed to be trimmed.

I then used my dremel with cutoff wheel to cut the spare down to just before the line. I will hand file the rest when I am fitting the wings.

Modified Wing Rear Spars

Wing skins

Today I had my friend Norio over to help me out a bit on the project. After a few hours of catching up and some good bbq we spend some time in the shop. No pictures tonight, but we got the final wing skins dimpled and nearly ready to install. Left to do is a bit more edge finishing and then riveting.

Wing skins

Propeller

Today I installed my beautiful MT propeller! It’s a huge milestone!

I received it last Thursday, and I had to finish a couple other things that needed to be installed behind the starter ring, namely the alternator mounting bracket. I also took this opportunity to pull the starter and grind off the mounting boss that was interfering with the intake snorkel.

Here you can see it after I ground it down. Now the snorkel can fit without and modification.

I then took my time installing the prop. The mounting bolts can only turn a couple turns at a time before having to wiggle the prop and tighten another one.

Once I got them all tighten I torqued it by hand for now, but MT calls for 65ft-lbs if torque on the bolts and then safety wiring them in pairs. I will do that later just in case (I really really hope not) I have to take the prop off again.

It’s just so cool to look at.

I just had to test fit the top cowl, it’s still high by about 3/4 of an inch, it’s sitting on the baffles, which I have yet to modify. Now that the prop is on I can start with the cowl fitting and then continue working on the baffles.

And of course…Happy Mothers Day!

Propeller

Received my prop!

Today it was Christmas in May! I got my prop delivered by American Propeller out of Redding, CA. I ordered a three blade MT Prop. It’s a composite, constant speed propeller.

Tracy from American Propeller did a great job unloading it from the truck and placing it in the shop.

I had to make some room (still have to clean up a bit) to put the prop on the table. I will install it for the first time this weekend. here’s my hand on the widest part of the blade for comparison. It’s a 72″ diameter prop.

I took the spinner off and man is that some gorgeous machining and fabrication.

I’m thoroughly impressed with MT prop and I’m sure the performance will match.

Received my prop!

Baffle and pushrods

This weekend I spent a few hours continuing the work on the baffle. This primarily was focused on the baffle fit around the valve cover gaskets. I had the parts on and off several times to remove more material and then check the fit.

I then spent time on the inlet ramps.

Here you can see the left and right inlet ramps. The left ramp (cylinder 2) will also have the intake filter. This piece will get modified to accept the filter as well as the snorkel that routes air down and to the air intake on the engine.

Just to give myself a change of pace, I spent some time making the remaining two pushrods. The elevator pushrods consist of a smaller rod that attaches the control sticks to the elevator bellcrank, and then from the bellcrank back to the elevators.

On a side note, my interior from Classic Aero Desings arrived! I’m going with a full custom interior using the Sportsman2 side panels and Aviator seats. They are absolutely perfect and look SO good!

I’m not quite ready to install them just yet, but here’s a sneak peak at one of the seats.

Baffle and pushrods

More baffle work

The metal work on the baffle is one of the most complex parts of the plane. I started out tonight by continuing on the right aft baffle.

I prepped and riveted all the doubler plates.

Here are the doubler plates riveted to the #3 cylinder baffle. I also riveted on the heat muff air intake and screen. The stock intake from vans is quite flimsy. I might replace it with something stronger.

I’m waiting to rivet the side and aft baffle parts together before final fitting on the engine.

I then riveted the doublers on to the #1 and #2 cylinder baffles and test fitted them onto the engine.

It’s starting to come together. I then began fitting the forward intake ramps and reinforcements.

I’m using a custom prop oil line from TS flightlines so the hole for the oil line will have to be slightly larger.

Here you can see a test fit. I’ll have to crest a custom gasket to go around the hose to ensure no relative movement. There’s a small amount of roof around the hose, but I’ll have to open it up a little bit.

More baffle work